“Nature reveals to us a beautiful part of ourselves we could not find anywhere else” – Kristen Butler
I have to say, the start of 2020 so far has brought many unexpected turns. For me, this has come in the form of running and also with life. My running lately has taken a bit of a backseat just dealing with life challenges and things. Career, life, and everything has just been a bit of a balancing act. I really want to find my joy and passion with my miles again this year. So, I decided to hit the trails for an ULTRA with Trail Racing Over Texas.
The trail community over the years for me has been a God send. They always embrace me, no matter how long of an absence I take from the dirt path. There truly is no other tribe like the trail running one. I’m always so happy to know that I always have a home with this particular family.
As far as East Texas goes, I haven’t run a race out in the piney woods in about 2 years. The last time I was at Tyler State Park, I ran a 100k and was the FIRST and ONLY female to finish that race! It was a victory I was so super proud of. So I do have so many amazing memories there. Plus being surrounded by such a woodsy wonderland just makes spending the day out there that much more amazing. I did not have a true goal for this go round. I knew TROT would put on a great race, and Running the Rose was a great first trail race for 2020. I was very happy with my choice.
The 33 mile distance started promptly at 7:15 AM, and we were off into the woods. Race morning I felt enthusiastic but not sure of how the day would go. As we were in line I remember hearing a lady say that she broke her ankle the last time she ran this race, and her goal this year was just to not have any broken bones. That kind of stuck in my head at the beginning of this race and I knew I needed to watch my footing especially since trail running as of late was certainly not my strong suit. Granted I did complete a 62 mile trail race in October and PR’d (woot) however I do way more runs on pavement than I’d like to admit. The only thing that I knew would be my saving grace was the fact that my weekly miles have stayed solid – and I do a fair amount of cross training. Mentally, I also knew I could handle and go the distance. So, off we went.
We started out on a MAJOR climb into the woods, with lots of rocks and roots grabbing at us along the way. I was navigating pretty slowly since I knew I had a long day ahead of me. It was great seeing lots of trail friends new and old out there. Lots of folks that just looked happy to be running, others that looked like they were in super competitive mode and going for blood. It was super inspiring to see all of it.
As we are climbing a hill, I hear a lady’s voice call out my name right behind me. I realize it is one of my Dallas Dirt Runner friends and we both start gabbing away and catching up. She ended up doing the same distance with me and we were both keeping a solid pace together. Power hiking climbs and picking up the pace running the dirt stretches. I’m very used to doing trail ultras alone, so it was so amazing to have company the entire way. We decided we were going to hang onto each other and I was glad we did.
Since the loops were 11 miles long we did this loop 3 times- with aid station stops in between. I fueled as much as I could at each station, grabbing whatever looked good at the time. PB&J mini sandwiches, pickle slices, electrolyte beverage, water. Repeat.
Around the end of loop 2, my legs started feeling a tad stiff and my feet were heavy. But I kept pushing. Energy wise I was in good spirits though, and I did not worry at all about pace. That is actually something that I never worry about and is for me what makes being out on trails much more enjoyable. Just taking in nature, with no worries and going at my pace. I really did not enjoy being on trails, until I let go of that ROAD RUNNER mentality. Yep, I was once that pace obsessed road runner so I get it.
As I get older though, I just appreciate the beauty of movement, the beauty of pushing myself, and the beauty of ME vs. ME. And nothing else.
Our victory lap was great and I was thankful to have my DDR friend with me for that 3rd and last loop. She encouraged me to keep going when my smile was starting to fade.
I think in this life its easy to want to just fight alone, and rely on self to stay strong. But there are times when you need people. People in your life to pick you up when you’re down, to tell you that things will work out in the end. I’m so thankful I have a tribe like that in my life to keep me encouraged.
And when it was all said and done, I went out there and said what I was going to do. I spent the day in the woods, falling back in love with the trails, with people that I love in this life.
I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Thank you, Running the Rose. First trail race of 2020 is complete. I am up for more.
Results can be found here.
Anyone else run Running the Rose?! Share your war stories with me!